Archive for January, 2014

New geeky TV series in 2014

January 31, 2014

New geeky TV series in 2014

The definition of “TV” may be in flux, and it can even be hard to determine what a series is, but hey, TV series still matter. 🙂

Here are some of the series scheduled to start (or which have already started) in 2014:

Every Witch Way
January 1, 2014

“What if you found out you had secret powers as a witch? Welcome to the world of Emma Alonso. She’s the new girl at Iridium High.”

January 7, 2014
Josh Holloway, Marg Helgenberger

“INTELLIGENCE is a dramatic thriller starring Josh Holloway as a high-tech intelligence operative enhanced with a super-computer microchip in his brain. With this implant, Gabriel is the first human ever to be connected directly into the global information grid and have complete access to Internet, WiFi, telephone and satellite data…”

January 10, 2014

From producer Ron Moore (Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica)

“Helix is an intense thriller about a team of scientists from the Centers for Disease Control who travel to a high-tech research facility in the Arctic to investigate a possible disease outbreak, only to find themselves pulled into a terrifying life-and-death struggle that holds the key to mankind’s salvation…or total annihilation.”

Close Encounters
January 10, 2014
Discovery Channel Canada

“Weird weather patterns, flight schedules, and extraordinary imagination – ultimately, of the thousands of “UFO sightings” that are reported each year around the globe, most can be explained and attributed to normal, Earthly phenomena.

But those cases that can’t be solved – even decades later — puzzle police investigators, government officials, researchers, and even medical communities. Premiering on Discovery, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS explores the most intriguing and convincing UFO stories on the planet. An original Canadian production from Toronto’s Newroad Media, the 13-part series examines two stories in each episode, combining dramatic recreations, CGI, and dynamic expert interviews, to illuminate the most mystifying sightings from around the world – from Alberta to Australia, and from Texas to Tehran! ”

January 11, 2014

“Based on the Women of the Otherworld novels by #1 NY Times best-selling author Kelley Armstrong, Bitten is an emotionally charged supernatural thriller starring Laura Vandervoort (Smallville, Ted) as Elena Michaels, the lone female werewolf in existence. Desperate to escape both a world she never wanted to be part of and the man who turned her into a werewolf, Elena has abandoned her pack and taken refuge in a new city. There, she works as a photographer and hides her werewolf existence from her new boyfriend. When bodies start turning up in her pack’s backyard, Elena finds herself back at Stonehaven, the werewolves’ ancestral domain.”

10 Million Dollar Bigfoot Bounty
January 24

“It’s time to really find out if Bigfoot truly exists with the LARGEST CASH PRIZE IN TELEVISION HISTORY. Spike is raising the stakes something serious in the endless quest to discover the truth about the legendary creature known as Bigfoot, the seemingly mythical being that roams forests of the world, avoiding mankind.”

March 9, 2014

“The people of Arcadia, Missouri are forever changed when their deceased loved ones suddenly start to return.”

From Dusk Till Dawn
March 11, 2014
El Rey

Based on the movies…vampires and the Gecko brothers.

Penny Dreadful
May 11, 2014

“Some of literature’s most terrifying characters, including Dr. Frankenstein, Dorian Gray, and iconic figures from the novel Dracula are lurking in the darkest corners of Victorian London.”

The Last Ship

“When a global pandemic wipes out eighty percent of the planet’s population, the crew of a lone naval destroyer must find a way to pull humanity from the brink of extinction.”


“Set in the volatile world of 17th century Massachusetts, ‘Salem’ explores what really fueled the town’s infamous witch trials and dares to uncover the dark, supernatural truth hiding behind the veil of this infamous period in American history. In Salem, witches are real, but they are not who or what they seem.”

Wayward Pines

“Imagine the perfect American town… beautiful homes, manicured lawns, children playing safely in the streets. Now imagine never being able to leave. You have no communica-tion with the outside world. You think you’re going insane. You must be in Wayward Pines.

Based on the best-selling novel “Pines” by Blake Crouch and brought to life by sus-penseful storyteller M. Night Shyamalan (“The Sixth Sense,” “Signs”), WAYWARD PINES is the intense new mind-bending event thriller evocative of the classic cult hit “Twin Peaks.””

Rosemary’s Baby

Based on the novel (and perhaps influenced by the movie). Stars Zoe Saldana.

Those are just some of them…are those others you are anticipating? What about the Cowled Crusader (is that going to happen as a TV series)?


This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Russell Johnson reported dead

January 17, 2014

Russell Johnson reported dead

There is no question that Russell Johnson is known to most people as “the Professor” on Gilligan’s Island.

It’s also fair to say that the Professor was a geek hero. It never seemed strange to us that someone would go on a three-hour tour…and take a stack of scientific books.

We certainly recognized the situations where the Professor knew the answer, but no one else seemed to understand it or engage with it.

Certainly, I can empathize with being able to whip up something highly technical out of coconuts and bamboo, but not being able to do something practical like fixing a boat. I’m sure there is more than one research lab doing cutting edge science that simply stopped using a door when it broke, because nobody was able to fix it.

However, geeks were well familiar with Russell Johnson before that iconic series. We knew him from It Came from Outer Space and This Island Earth. Even that only scratches the geeky surface.

Other geek-friendly credits include:

  • Adventures of Superman: Russell Johnson played “Chopper”, one of the bad guys, in Runaway Robot…which features another character named Professor Hinckle, close to Professor (Roy) Hinkley, Johnson’s Gilligan’s Island character
  • Attack of the Crab Monsters which, like many other Roger Corman movies, is stranger than the title would suggest
  • The Space Children, which also featured Jackie “Uncle Fester” Coogan
  • The Twilight Zone, in two episodes involving time travel. In one, he is a scientist who accidentally brings a murderer forward; in another, he travels back to the time of the Lincoln assassination
  • Thriller, in a house with haunted mirrors, based on a Robert Bloch story
  • The Outer Limits (killer plants are accidentally brought back from space)
  • The Invaders
  • The Horror at 37,000 Feet
  • Hitch Hike to Hell
  • The Ghost of Flight 401 (based on a book by John G. Fuller)
  • Wonder Woman
  • Beyond Westworld
  • MacGyver
  • ALF (one of the many times he basically reprises the Professor)
  • Robotech II: The Sentinels
  • Mathnet
  • Monsters (the TV series)
  • Hellbender (videogame from 1996)
  • Meego

Good-bye, Russell Johnson…we will always think of you as one of our own.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

2013 Oscar Nominations

January 16, 2014

2013 Oscar Nominations

The Oscar nominations for 2013 are being released this morning. As well as linking to all of the noms when it is available*, we’ll note some of the geek-friendly ones here.

Best Picture

  • Gravity
  • Her

Left out

  • Frozen
  • Saving Mr. Banks

Best Director

  • Alfonso Cuaron for Gravity

Left out

  • Spike Jonze for Her
  • John Lee Hancock for Saving Mr. Banks

Best Actor

Left out

  • Joaquin Phoenix for Her

Best Actress

  • Sandra Bullock for Gravity

Left out

  • Emma Thompson for Saving Mr. Banks

Best Supporting Actor

Left out

  • Tom Hanks for Saving Mr. Banks
  • Paul Giamatti for Saving Mr. Banks
  • Colin Farrell for Saving Mr. Banks
  • George Clooney for Gravity

Best Supporting Actress

Left out

  • Scarlett Johansson for Her

Best Original Screenplay

  • Her

Left out

  • Saving Mr. Banks

Animated Feature Film

  • The Croods
  • Despicable Me 2
  • Ernest & Celestine
  • Frozen
  • The Wind Rises


  • The Grandmaster
  • Gravity

Costume Design

  • The Grandmaster

Film Editing

  • Gravity

Makeup & Hairstyling

  • The Lone Ranger

Original Score

  • Gravity
  • Her
  • Saving Mr. Banks

Left out

  • Frozen

Original Song

  • Happy from Despicable Me 2
  • Let It Go from Frozen
  • The Moon Song from Her

Production Design

  • Gravity
  • Her

Sound Editing

  • Gravity
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Sound Mixing

  • Gravity
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Visual Effects

  • Gravity
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  • Iron Man 3
  • The Lone Ranger
  • Star Trek Into Darkness

Full list:



  • No nom for Tom Hanks (with two strong possibilities)? Saving Mr. Banks was also shut out in acting noms
  • The Lone Ranger was nominated…twice
  • Not much love for Her, the purest science fiction movie we’ve seen in some time: no acting or directing noms (although it did get a song nom and a deserved Production Design nom…and original screenplay)
  • Not even technical noms for the highest domestic grossing movie of the year, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire?
  • Pixar: not nominated for Animated Feature
  • No nominations at all for Lee Daniels’ The Butler
  • The nominated movie you haven’t seen yet, but that you’ll have to see to be a  completest: Alone Yet Not Alone

We also track movie box office. What 2013 Oscar nominated movies were also box office successes? Here are the results for the top ten (at time of writing…some movies are still growing their domestic grosses):

  • Iron Man 3 (#2, behind The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) got one nomination (Visual Effects)
  • Despicable Me 2 (#3) got two (Animated Feature, Original Song)
  • Frozen (#4) got two (Animated Feature, Original Song)
  • Gravity (#7) got  ten (Best Picture, Best Actress, Cinematography, Directing, Film Editing, Music – Original Score, Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects)
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (#8) got three (Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects)

Shut out: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (#1); Man of Steel (#5); Monsters University (#6); Fast & Furious 6 (#9); and Oz the Great and Powerful (#10)

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Ends in 4: geeky anniversaries in 2014

January 10, 2014

Ends in 4: geeky anniversaries in 2014

Hey, little Ten Toes! Humans (at least those using the decimal system) like to observe anniversaries by the decade. This is a brief list of some of the geeky anniversaries happening this year. It is in no way comprehensive, and we certainly may add to it (and invite you to make suggestions by commenting on the post).

1964 was a particularly stand-out year for American geek-friendly television, as 1984 was for geek-friendly movies. We’ll also be observing the 40th anniversary of D&D in 2014.

One Hundred and Fiftieth anniversary (1864)


  • Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne

One Hundred and Twentieth anniversary (1894)


  • The People of the Mist by H. Rider Haggard

One Hundred and Tenth anniversary (1904)


  • An Impossible Voyage (and several others) (Georges Méliès)


  • The Food of the Gods by H.G. Wells
  • The Marvelous Land of Oz (the first sequel to The Wizard) by L. Frank Baum

One Hundredth anniversary (1914)


  • Gertie the Dinosaur (a very early animated movie)
  • The New Wizard of Oz (directed by L. Frank Baum)
  • The Patchwork Girl of Oz
  • Cinderella (with Mary Pickford)
  • Neptune’s Daughter
  • The Ghost Breaker
  • In the Year 2014
  • His Prehistoric Past (Charlie Chaplin)
  • The Primitive Man
  • A Christmas Carol (Charles Rock)
  • A Study in Scarlet (short)
  • A Trip to the Moon (not Méliès)


  • At the Earth’s Core by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Birth centennials

  • George Reeves (actor: Superman)
  • Alec Guinness (actor: Star Wars)
  • Jonathan Harris (actor: Lost in Space)
  • Kevin McCarthy (actor: Invasion of the Body Snatchers)
  • David Wayne (actor: Bat-villain)
  • William S. Burroughs (author)
  • Jeff Corey (actor: Star Trek)
  • Thurl Ravenscroft (voice artist: Disney)
  • Tod Andres (actor: Planet of the Apes)
  • James Van Allen (physicist)
  • Robert Wise (director, producer: Star Trek: The Motion Picture)
  • Ward Kimball (animator: Disney)
  • Desmond Llewelyn (actor: James Bond)
  • Clayton Moore (actor: The Lone Ranger)
  • Robert McCloskey (author, illustrator)
  • Jack Cardiff (cinematographer, director: The Mutations)
  • Kenneth More (actor: Journey to the Center of the Earth)
  • Jack Parsons (rocket scientist)
  • Jerry Siegel (comics: Superman)
  • Martin Gardner (author)
  • Jackie Coogan (actor: The Addams Family)
  • Richard Widmark (actor: The Swarm)
  • Tenzing Norgay (mountaineer)

Ninetieth anniversary (1924)


  • The Thief of Bagdad (Douglas Fairbanks)
  • Peter Pan
  • Siegried (directed by Fritz Lang)
  • Aelita: Queen of Mars
  • The Hands of Orlac
  • The Enchanted Cottage
  • The Last Man on Earth (Earle Foxe)
  • Dante’s Inferno
  • Alice’s Spooky Adventure (Walt Disney short)
  • Trip to Mars (Koko the Clown)


  • The King of Elfland’s Daughter by Lord Dunsany

Eightieth anniversary (1934)


  • The Black Cat
  • Babes in Toyland (Laurel & Hardy)
  • Tarzan and His Mate
  • Men in Black…the only Three Stooges short to be nominated for an Oscar

Bufo’s Weird World

  • The “Surgeon’s Photograph” of the Loch Ness monster surfaces


  • Erewhon by Samuel Butler
  • Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers

Seventieth anniversary (1944)


  • Arsenic and Old Lace
  • The Uninvited
  • Captain America serial
  • House of Frankenstein
  • The Scarlet Claw (Sherlock Holmes)
  • The Lodger
  • Between Two Worlds
  • The Canterville Ghost (Charles Laughton)
  • The Mummy’s Ghost and The Mummy’s Curse
  • It Happened Tomorrow
  • The Monster Maker
  • Black Magic (Charlie Chan)
  • Cobra Woman
  • The Return of the Vampire
  • The Invisible Man’s Revenge
  • Cry of the Werewolf
  • Jungle Woman (Acquanetta)
  • The Lady and the Monster
  • Gildersleeve’s Ghost

Sixtieth anniversary (1954)


  • Godzilla (USA release)
  • Creature from the Black Lagoon
  • Them!
  • Tobor the Great
  • Monster from the Ocean Floor (the first geeky movie Roger Corman produced)
  • Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
  • Brigadoon
  • The Naked Jungle (it’s a monster movie…it’s just that the monster is made up of many little organisms) 😉

Debuting TV series

  • Captain Midnight
  • Flash Gordon
  • Rocky Jones, Space Ranger


  • I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
  • The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov
  • The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

Comic book first appearances

  • Wendy the Good Little Witch

Bufo’s Weird World

  • The first big wave of humanoid sightings in conjunction with UFOs in the modern era occurs in France
  • Truman Betherum’s Aboard a Flying Saucer is released
  • The UFO Evidence by Richard H. Hall and NICAP

Fiftieth anniversary (1964)

1964 was a great year for television! Shows debuting that year include:

  • Bewitched
  • The Addams Family
  • The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
  • Jeopardy
  • Flipper
  • Gilligan’s Island
  • The Munsters
  • Jonny Quest
  • Underdog
  • Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
  • Stingray (supermarionation)
  • My Living Doll (Julie Newmar as a robot)
  • The Magilla Gorilla Show
  • The Peter Potamus Show
  • Hoppity Hooper
  • Linus the Lion Hearted
  • The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo (Magoo does the classics)
  • R3 (a now obscure science fiction show with Oliver Reed)

The Rankin-Bass Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer debuted, and the Beatles set records appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show.


  • Mary Poppins
  • Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
  • Santa Claus Conquers the Martians


  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  • The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
  • Doctor Who and the Daleks by David Whitaker (the first Doctor Who novel)
  • Farnham’s Freehold by Robert A. Heinlein
  • Bantam begins reprinting the Doc Savage adventures
  • The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander (the first book of the Chronicles of Prydain)

Fortieth anniversary (1974)


  • Blazing Saddles
  • Young Frankenstein
  • The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
  • The Man with the Golden Gun
  • Zardoz
  • Dark Star
  • Flesh Gordon
  • Phantom of the Paradise
  • Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla
  • Blood for Dracula (AKA Andy Warhol’s Dracula…the Udo Kier version)
  • It’s Alive (Larry Cohen’s killer baby movie)
  • Phase IV
  • The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat
  • The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires
  • The Cars that Ate Paris (Peter Weir)
  • Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter
  • The Terminal Man
  • The Groove Tube

Debuting TV series

  • Land of the Lost
  • Planet of the Apes
  • The Six Million Dollar Man
  • Kolchak the Night Stalker
  • Shazam! (Captain Marvel)
  • Hong Kong Phooey
  • Happy Days (does it count? Well, arguably, Fonzie is supernatural ((or at least, a superhero)), but Mork & Mindy was also a spin-off) 😉

Toys & Games

  • Dungeons & Dragons (original version)


  • Carrie by Stephen King
  • Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said by Philip K. Dick
  • Icerigger by Alan Dean Foster
  • The Mote in God’s Eye by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
  • The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin

Comic book first appearances

  • Wolverine
  • The Punisher
  • Iron Fist

Thirtieth anniversary (1984)


  • Ghostbusters
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
  • The Neverending Story
  • The Terminator
  • The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension
  • The Karate Kid
  • Gremlins
  • Revenge of the Nerds
  • Red Dawn
  • Dune
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street
  • Splash
  • This Is Spinal Tap
  • Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes
  • Conan, the Destroyer
  • 1984 (the John Hurt version)
  • Children of the Corn
  • Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
  • Star Man
  • 2010
  • Top Secret!
  • The Last Starfighter
  • Repo Man
  • The Philadelphia Experiment
  • Supergirl
  • Firestarter
  • Night of the Comet
  • Sheena: Queen of the Jungle
  • The Toxic Avenger
  • The Muppets Take Manhattan
  • Runaway (Gene Simmons and robots versus Tom Selleck)
  • Silent Night, Deadly Night
  • The Ice Pirates (which my Significant Other has named the worst movie ever made)
  • C.H.U.D.
  • Dreamscape
  • Iceman
  • The Company of Wolves
  • All of Me
  • The Brother from Another Planet

Debuting TV series

  • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Jeremy Brett)
  • V
  • Airwolf
  • Thomas (the tank engine) & Friends
  • Highway to Heaven
  • The Transformers
  • Voltron: Defender of the Universe
  • Muppet Babies
  • The Master
  • The Duck Factory
  • Rainbow Brite

Toys & Games

  • Chill
  • Toon


  • Neuromancer by William Gibson
  • Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart

Twentieth anniversary (1994)


  • The Lion King
  • Interview with the Vampire
  • The Mask
  • Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
  • The Crow
  • Stargate
  • Ed Wood
  • The Flintstones
  • Junior (Arnold Schwarzenegger…pregnant)
  • Frankenstein (the Robert De Niro version)
  • Street Fighter
  • Star Trek: Generations (Kirk and Picard)
  • The Pagemaster
  • Timecop
  • Wolf (Jack Nicholson)
  • The Shadow
  • Blankman

Debuting TV series

  • Babylon 5
  • Touched by an Angel
  • The Secret World of Alex Mack
  • Gargoyles
  • The Magic School Bus
  • Aaahh!!! Real Monsters
  • Weird Science
  • Earth 2
  • Duckman
  • The Tick


  • Sony releases the Playstation in Japan
  • Earthworm Jim

Tenth anniversary (2004)


  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  • The Incredibles
  • Shaun of the Dead
  • The Polar Express
  • The Butterfly Effect
  • The Village
  • 13 Going on 30
  • The Day After Tomorrow
  • Saw
  • Hellboy
  • Howl’s Moving Castle
  • The Grudge
  • Shark Tale
  • Team America: World Police
  • AVP: Alien Vs. Predator
  • Mysterious Skin
  • Catwoman
  • The Manchurian Candidate (Denzel Washington)
  • Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
  • D.E.B.S.
  • Night Watch

Debuting TV series

  • Lost
  • Battlestar Galactica
  • The 4400
  • Phil of the Future
  • Bleach
  • Wonderfalls
  • Hex
  • The Batman
  • Ghost Hunters

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

My take on…The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

January 6, 2014

My take on…The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

I wrote a piece about the many versions of Walter Mitty, and I freely admit that the knowledge of those informs my view of this version. I will do some comparison a bit later, after a spoiler alert :), but I can give you my non-spoilery impressions first.

It’s rare that I find a movie that appears to aim so squarely for middle of the road, and succeeds so well. Everything about it seemed to be simply good…not great, not bad.

The performances? Good. Shirley Maclaine rises a bit above, and Sean Penn was intriguing, but I wouldn’t say anything stood out as an extraordinary work.

The directing? Solid, but not transcendent. Ben Stiller directed it himself, and as he showed with Zoolander and Tropic Thunder, he knows how to direct a movie. Not many actor/directors know how to use themselves as actors…they often don’t understand, I think, what works about them in the movies. They may play it too safe or too daring. Stiller knows what works for him…and for the other actors.

The special effects (yes, there are significant effects), the design, the cinematography, the music…all serve the story.

What I would say at this point is don’t avoid the movie, but I do think you could wait to see it until it is convenient.

SPOILER ALERT (if you haven’t seen it yet and would like the joy of discovery, I would wait to read this until afterwards)

Now, as to the script by Steve Conrad (Wrestling Ernest Hemingway, The Pursuit of Happyness)…

The the original story is brilliant. However, it is difficult to adapt.


The Walter Mitty of the story is simply not likely to have much character development, which people want in a movie. The Original Walter Mitty (OWM) is stuck in an uneventful life, and that may continue…forever. OWM’s fantasies are a way of coping with that.

James Thurber carefully doesn’t tell us that’s a bad thing…and it isn’t particularly a good thing. It’s just a thing. 🙂 What Thurber did, amazingly, is give us an insight into the secret life of some people.

Conrad (as did Ken Englund and Everett Freeman for the Danny Kaye version) seems to see the daydreaming as a symptom. Once the Ben Stiller Walter Mitty starts really getting involved in things in life, he comments that he hasn’t been daydreaming as much. I think truly imaginative people aren’t doing it to replace a lacking reality but to enhance it.

Conrad’s Walter Mitty does have an interesting balance of effects. The daydreaming is often a negative, causing Mitty to miss real world happenings that are important, but do strengthen him at important times.

I thought the best things, and the ones to which the audience seemed to react the most, were the fantasies (in particular, one early on). I’d have to say, though, they aren’t so much about what Walter Mitty is doing during them…they are sometimes just odd (although informative about the character’s motivations). In other words, this Walter Mitty doesn’t always picture himself as the hero, or superior to his “normal” self.

You are likely to see some plot holes, and may be confused as to what is a fantasy and what isn’t (the latter is probably intentional, but they appear to need to reinforce when it isn’t, not for philosophical reasons, but for plot clarity).


Bottom line? I think most people will like this movie, but not love it.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

My takes on…Her, Saving Mr. Banks, and American Hustle

January 2, 2014

My takes on…Her, Saving Mr. Banks, and American Hustle

Official Site
Her at
Her at
Her at

It’s rare that a science fiction movie gets critical accolades and Oscar buzz, but that’s the case with Spike Jonze’s Her.

Oh, and this isn’t a case of “…is it science fiction or is it not?” It’s one of the purer science fiction movies we’ve had in some time. It is certainly intended to look at the consequences of our science and its technological application, and what that might mean for us humans.

I enjoyed it quite a bit, and thought it was good. My non-geek (but geek tolerant) Significant Other hated it.

Part of that depends, I believe, in how you interpret the “message” of the movie. I’ll avoid spoilers on that, but I think that my SO’s reaction was partially to that, and not to the execution of the idea.

The acting was good: it was the best I’ve seen Amy Adams, in particular. Adams is often asked to portray someone who is somewhat…symbolic. While the role is crucial, I found Amy’s character…er, “Amy”, to be quite believable: not always the case for me with this particular actor.

I was very impressed with the art direction. Set somewhat in the future, the clothes didn’t seem wild and unwearable, but simply what would be unfashionable today. Could you wear what most people wear in Her and have it be unnoticed? Absolutely…that’s generally true with the tech in the movie, even though some of it is quite beyond us today. You might get a sideways look from an observer, but it isn’t like having a light saber or a phaser.

A reasonable looking and yet different future is hard to achieve: I would think we may see some technical Oscar noms for this movie.

The philosophical questions raised by the movie are important. It may engender some good adult conversation in your circle. However, it’s worth noting that this is an adult movie. Often, science fiction is assumed to be designed for kids (many 1950s science fiction novels were shelved with the kids’ books), but this one is definitely not designed for children. The issues wouldn’t be the same for them, and yes, there is sexual content.

I recommend this one, with the reservation that it isn’t for everyone (as my SO proves).

Saving Mr. Banks

Official Site
Saving Mr. Banks at
Saving Mr. Banks at
Saving Mr. Banks at

There are several reasons why, on paper, I should have loved Saving Mr. Banks:

  • I’m a big Disney fan…I was given a share of stock in the company when I was twelve years old
  • My favorite TV show is The Dick Van Dyke Show
  • I have a background in theatre, and can relate to composing the songs
  • I look forward to seeing Tom Hanks in movies


I think the movie suffered from something which happens with a lot of movies when they take on historical figures which we know (particularly, in this case, Tom Hanks as Walt Disney) or for which they have a lot of information (they had tapes of P.L. Travers, among other things). There can simply be a reluctance to stray too far from the truth.

That doesn’t mean that they are afraid of offending someone. It’s just that…the best characters have an inhumanness about them, something that significantly sets them apart from the people we know. When you adhere too closely to reality, you can end up with something that feels somewhat homogenized, even if you include the character’s flaws. There’s something to be said for when the impossible happens.

I think that’s why both my Significant Other and I thought Paul Giamatti’s was the best performance in the movie…and it was excellent. Even if the character was based on a real person, there was no need to play it like that person. Giamatti is always good, but this was stand-out work.

Colin Farrell may have been the best I’ve seen him, and I really liked Jason Schwartzman and B.J. Novak as the Sherman brothers (music and lyrics for the Mary Poppins movie, among many others).

The art direction (you can see a video featurette about it in this SlashFilm article by Germain Lussier) is remarkable, and again, I think we could see a nomination for it and costumes.

Still, there was something a bit…stiff about it for me. I certainly didn’t see Walt Disney in Tom Hanks…although people who knew Walt seem to think the performance is accurate.

This is one that I would put into the “sure, go see it” category. It’s worth seeing, but I think it could have been better if the producers had felt freer to use dramatic license.

American Hustle

American Hustle
American Hustle at
American Hustle at
American Hustle at

I’ll say right now that Jeremy Renner deserves a Supporting Actor Oscar nom for his performance in American Hustle. There has been a tendency to cast him in roles emphasizing his physicality since his breakout Oscar nom in The Hurt Locker, and it was really nice to see him in  a nuanced role that he played to perfection.

Overall, the movie shows the strong vision of director and co-screenwriter, David O. Russell. There are a lot of things happening, and it would be easy for something to break loose…to have a 70s hairdo cross the line, or an actor who plays it too much (or too little) like a comedy. That’s not the case, which we can credit to Russell.

Is it a good movie? Yes, and I agree with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which put it into the comedy category for the Golden Globes. It’s not a laugh out loud, slapstick Jim Carrey/Eddie Murphy comedy, but it’s honestly absurd.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t moments of pathos…there are. I wouldn’t say those sad moments are the main purpose, though: I suppose we could say they are more like tragic relief. 😉

What is American Hustle? Really, it’s a heist movie. It’s based on real events, but quite loosely. I think the opening credits included the line, “Some of this actually happened.” I’m sure the movie is far more entertaining because they didn’t try to stick too closely to reality…the characters sometimes do what makes them better characters, not what honors real people.

My Significant Other thought it was weird, but I said after the movie that I feel sorry for Christian Bale. He puts himself through incredible and clearly uncomfortable things to achieve superior performances. I want to say to him, “It’s okay, wear the fat suit…we know it’s only a movie. Don’t hurt yourself!” That might be just me, though… 😉

Worth seeing? Yes. Likely to get Oscar noms? Yes, many. I could see ten or eleven, including Best Picture and Best Screenplay…and some acting noms.

As to warnings, there is some violence, and…well, let’s say a lot of anatomy on display, although not a lot of nudity.

None to avoid in the three…enjoy!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Yikkee-YaG (YKYAG: You Know You’re a Geek…) #1

January 2, 2014

Yikkee-YaG (YKYAG: You Know You’re a Geek…) #1

At The Measured Circle, being a geek is a good thing…we’re proud of it. 🙂 However, how do you know if you’re a geek? We decided to give you some indicators. Note: you can be a geek even if none of these are true for you, or if some are only partly true.

You know you’re a geek…if, even though you logically* know they will never happen, you have detailed contingency plans for what to do in the event of the zombie apocalypse, an attack by Godzilla, or you develop superpowers.

You know you’re a geek…when you can always remember Captain Kirk’s birthdate**, but aren’t so sure of your mother’s.

You know you’re a geek…when people say you don’t know how to dress appropriately***, but you would never wear a DC shirt to a Marvel movie.

You know you’re a geek…if you are proud of your lightning fast wit, and ignore the fact that it takes you two minutes to explain the joke**** to the other people in the room.

You know you’re a geek…if it doesn’t bother you when people ridicule your passions, unless they confuse your passions with somebody else’s passions*****, or use the wrong terminology when insulting you.

You know you’re a geek…if you find The Big Bang Theory amusing because that Penny character****** is so ridiculous: nobody really talks that way.

You know you’re a geek…if you think every single movie, TV show, and book deserves respect, no matter how bad it is*******.

* And you are really good at logic
** March 22, 2263
*** Like that time you wore a Batman belt buckle to your performance review
**** And they still don’t get it afterwards, but you think it is funny
***** How can people confuse Star Wars and Star Trek? One is in the future and one is in the past
****** Bonus indicator: you immediately realize Penny’s parallel with Marilyn on The Munsters. Bonus bonus indicator if you did that and The  Munsters was on before you were born
******* Unless, you know, it’s a mainstream work 😉

Note: using a convoluted structure like these footnotes is also an indicator…geeks find complexity fun.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

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